WANTED: Generous hearts for Grace Park Elementary School

Quietly, purposefully, joyfully, this man gives back. Let's help him encourage poor kids to look forward to going to school every day. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Quietly, purposefully, joyfully, this man gives back. Let’s help him encourage poor kids to look forward to going to school every day. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

“Without education and liberty, which are the soil and the sun of man, no reform is possible, no measure can give the result desired.”

- Jose Rizal (from his “Letter to the Young Women of Malolos”)

With these words of our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, I give honor to the countless men and women who continue to work and advocate for the effective and meaningful education of our youths.  I had been blessed with a father who believed strongly in the value of education; he opened my eyes to the richness of the world of learning, buying me books (and ensuring I had enough “kitty funds” for them) and nurturing my hunger for wisdom even at a very young age.

And so, as I grew up, I have always surrounded myself with books, bringing them with me as I traveled, giving them away as gifts, and then encouraging my loved ones to take up reading as a hobby. It brings me so much joy when I hear that someone who did not enjoy reading before can now actually finish three books in just about two weeks. It’s a great proof that reading is, in itself, an adventure-filled journey, one that takes us to greater heights of discoveries, learning, and wisdom.

It does not surprise me, too, that the universe surrounds me with people and friends who also love to read, and more importantly, caring souls who value  education and do something to give back to the community, by helping children in realizing their dreams. I was having second thoughts about writing this piece for I always believed that good deeds must never be announced. However, my desire to keep private moments such as this one had been overtaken by the hope that somehow, this piece will lead to better things for these children who need generous hearts as they struggle to go to school, some of them wearing only very old and torn slippers.

I am sharing with you this story of greatness. About a simple man who is our friend, about their group’s quiet “project” that seeks to support the most needy schoolchildren of Grace Park Elementary School (GPES) in Caloocan City. This group of kindhearted individuals is from the batch of 1975 graduates, headed by Ned Canlas. Ned’s quiet ways, humor, selfless work, and direction inspire me and JR. His and his wife’s (Jay) relationship is a strong proof of how love and friendship can evolve into something that makes marriage a “happy-even-if-imperfect-place”. And so, with silent gratitude, we always thank God for these small miracles in our lives.  The gift of their friendship is a part of that strong wall–that you know–is always there to lean on to. This couple’s example of “giving back” does not need big announcements or tarpaulins. They do it quietly, purposefully, joyfully.

How can you help Ned’s group? There are wonderful things that Ned and his batch mates have already began. First, they have been raising money for the “pambaon” (loose translation: stipend/allowance) of the most needy pupils.  As I type this, they are now supporting 46 kids. Each child receives PhP 1,200.00 (USD 27.55) per quarter (or PhP 400.00 per month). By committing to sponsor the pambaon of even 1 child, you will already ensure that this child will be motivated to go to his classes every day, not worrying that he won’t have money for his ride to school and merienda (snacks). While this small group of 46 kids is assured of assistance at least for the next year or so, your generous help will ensure that more kids will be assisted and/or other related projects may be financed. [I will update this post should new projects come up or I get a better picture of how many more schoolchildren direly need help.]

Second, they have the yearly “Lapis, Papel, at Notebook Project” where they distribute packs of school supplies for the most needy children. They have already done the distribution for this school year but you are welcome to send your donation (preferably, packed in paper bags or envelopes already) anytime. Raising more school supplies will mean that more children may be given these small gifts of support for their learning.

Third, they have already established an eLibrary. This is envisioned to be an e-learning center and reading room. The school, of course, has a main library. However, this new eLibrary hopes to encourage schoolchildren to take up reading as a hobby and source of inspirations so books (for young readers) on arts, adventure , literature, language, environment, and science would be most welcome. Even novels for young readers will be good. (However, we may have to review the content and language so we know we’re not giving them books that are not yet meant for their age bracket…wink! wink!). See the present display shelf on our visit there a couple of weeks ago.

Help us nurture the love for books, reading, and learning. Please donate books for young readers! [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Help us nurture the love for books, reading, and learning. Please donate books for young readers! [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Since this is going to be the school’s eLibrary, we’re glad to share with you that twenty (20) sets of desktop computers had been donated by Allen and Overy of Tokyo, Japan (through the efforts of Carolina Garcia). They are now housed in sturdy desks, waiting for the opening of the eLibrary!

You must be excited now to know what does the eLibrary need at this time and where can you help! For now, here are things that will be most needed:

1. Books and more books (see my suggestions above);

2. Reading tables and chairs (see the pictures below for a better appreciation of how many can still be accommodated);

3. IT modules/software, particularly on teaching aids;

4. Talents: (i) IT teachers/trainers who can train the teachers and students alike in the use of the computer-assisted learning aids and modules; (ii) an interior designer who can help in developing a floor plan and executing it to ensure a nice and enjoyable learning atmosphere for the users; and (iii) a full-time librarian or part-time librarians (of course, hiring her/him/them will mean funding source for the salaries so you or someone you know may want to commit sponsoring the cost of a librarian(s) for a year, as a good start!);

5. Ventilation appliances: (i) ceiling fans and/or stand fans (the current ceiling fan is old and may already be unsafe and the other one is not working); and (ii) air-conditioner (I would suggest this to maximize the life span of the computer sets);

6. Better and more secure windows (as you will note from the pictures below, the windows’ enclosures are of the jalousie-type glasses so they are not very secure);

7. Funds to cover the costs of the interior, window, and finishing works, the repair of some tiles (see picture below), and possibly, the creation of a cozy and “inviting” reading nook (where fluffy chairs/pillows may be placed on the floor, which can be covered by rubber mats).

So far, these are the things that the eLibrary needs. Again, I will update this post as soon as I hear more updates from Ned’s group.

For inquiries or pledge of help and donation (in any of the three areas I mentioned above), you may contact Mr. Ned Canlas through email address, nedpcanlas@yahoo.com.

Thank you so much for visiting meilBOX and your generous hearts! God bless you and your plans and dreams!

P.s. Enjoy the pictures below and envision the happy faces of children who will be touched by your generous hearts and loving kindness!

Grace Park Elementary School (facade of the main building). This is where the eLibrary is located. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

Grace Park Elementary School (facade of the main building). This is where the eLibrary is located. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The possible reading area of the eLibrary. Imagine happy schoolchildren reading and learning together here! [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The possible reading area of the eLibrary. Imagine happy schoolchildren reading and learning together here! [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The sets of computers are now waiting for their first learners! But first, they need volunteer I.T. trainors. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The 20 sets of computers are now waiting for their first learners! But first, they need volunteer I.T. trainors. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

A cozy and inviting reading nook may be created here. But wait, the tiles and floors still need your help! [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

A cozy and inviting reading nook may be created here. But wait, the tiles and floors still need your help! [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The windows are made of jalousie-type glasses/enclosures so it will be better if they are replaced with a  stronger or more secure type of window panes. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

The windows are made of jalousie-type glasses/enclosures so it will be better if they are replaced with a stronger or more secure type of window panes. [Photo by Mary Anne Velas-Suarin]

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